Lifestyle changes for optimal semen quality
If you’re trying to have a baby, there are a number of things you can do to optimise your sperm health and optimise your chances of getting pregnant. This guide will explain what impacts sperm health and what lifestyle changes may impact them.
What can you do to optimise your sperm quality?
In many cases, the cause of a lowered sperm quantity or quality is unknown. However, there are some factors that are known to reduce sperm quality. Research has shown that an unhealthy lifestyle can have a negative impact on semen parameters. Changes to your lifestyle may help improve your sperm health and optimise your chances of conceiving. Sperm production is continuous and it takes on average 90 days to produce new sperm. By making changes to your lifestyle now, you might see an improvement in your sperm quality in about 3 months’ time!
Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your fertility. There is a known link between smoking and poor sperm quality. The chemical changes in your body due to smoking can cause sperm DNA damage which can affect the chances of them fertilising an egg.
Reduce alcohol consumption
Your fertility is likely to be unaffected if your consumption is within the recommended guidelines of three to four units per day. Excessive consumption, however, can have a negative impact on your testosterone production, which may negatively affect the number of healthy sperm being produced.
Daily exercise can help maintain a healthy weight, increase blood circulation and improve blood sugar levels. While it may not directly improve your fertility, it can help increase your energy levels and release feel-good hormones, serotonin and dopamine, which can help combat stress levels.
NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines recommend having a BMI between 20 and 30 when trying to conceive because some studies show that being underweight or overweight may impact your ability to conceive. While this isn’t the case for everyone, it’s still important to eat a well-balanced diet that provides adequate nutrition (i.e. an appropriate intake of vitamins, fibre and protein).
Some people think that if they don’t ejaculate frequently, they’ll “save up their sperm” to increase the chances of getting pregnant. This is not the case. Studies have indicated that if your abstinence is longer than 7 days then it might have a negative impact on your sperm count and motility. Ejaculating every 2–3 days is ideal for optimal sperm health.
Supplements can’t replace a healthy diet, but they can be a good addition to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients. A multivitamin with zinc, vitamin E, selenium and Coenzyme Q10 can be beneficial for male fertility. Be sure to check with your GP before taking any supplements so you follow the recommended instructions.
Cycling and fertility
While it may be a common fertility concern, a study on British cycling habits has found that men who cycle regularly are not more likely to be infertile. The research conducted by scientists at University College London also debunked the myth that cycling increases the risk of erectile dysfunction.
Visit your GP
If you’re worried about your semen, you can visit your GP who may arrange a test or you could consider testing privately.